Mercedes-Benz has rebadged the SLK roadster as the SLC, reviving a long-lost nameplate to better align it with the German brand's new naming strategy. Essentially a mid-life update, the big news centres of the replacement for the range-topping SLK 55 with the twin-turbocharged V6 SLC 43 you see here.
A closer alignment to the C-Class range is the official corporate rationale for changing the moniker but the good news is the Mercedes-AMG SLC 43 still follows the same formula as before. And it is a valued member of the lineup as AMG celebrates its 50th birthday.
Vehicle Style: Sports Car
Engine/trans: 270kW/520Nm 3.0-litre 6cyl | 9spd automatic
Fuel Economy Claimed: 7.9l/100kms | Tested: 12.9l/100kms
TMR scored the Mercedes-AMG SLC 43 for a week. The twin-turbo V6 replaces the previous model SLK 55’s naturally-aspirated V8 and adopts the nine-speed automatic transmission.
With better fuel consumption that the V8, the SLC 43 is only one-tenth slower for zero to 100km/h, with the dash to triple figures taking just 4.7 seconds.
In the Mercedes-Benz manner, external styling changes aren’t revolutionary - there's new lights front and rear and a slightly changed front bumper and grille. But like other models, the SLC 43 scores the usual Mercedes-AMG extras - unique 18-inch 10-spoke alloy wheels, a rear spoiler, front splitter and lower diffuser type panel housing the twin exhaust tailpipes.
Across the range there is a change for the folding hardtop roof which can now be operated at speeds up to 40km/h.
- Standard Features: Leather trim, metallic trim highlights, sports seats with eight-way power adjustment and ‘neck-scarf’ heating, remote keyless entry, folding hardtop roof
- Infotainment: Six-speaker Harman/Kardon Logic 7 CD/radio, aux input, Bluetooth connectivity, Comand system, satellite navigation
Owners of the previous Mercedes-AMG SLK 55 will immediately pick the differences with the SLC 43 in the form of the larger 7.0-inch multimedia screen, a thick three-spoke flat-bottom steering wheel trimmed in Nappa leather and the upmarket IWC clock mounted in the centre of the dashboard - but mostly this is the same glorious interior as before.
You sit low, just as you should in a sports car, and electronic seat and steering wheel adjustment (rake and reach) deliver a spot-on driving position.
In front is a neat, compact instrument binnacle with twin gauges separated by an LCD screen for driving mode and other technical info.
The centre stack remains the usual slick ‘Benz layout with multiple buttons for audio, climate-control and various vehicle functions. Aft of this, on the centre console, is a stylish covered flip-up panel containing the roof open/close switch.
Even with another passenger, the cabin never felt cramped and, as usual, the quality of all trim materials was obvious with the mix of leather and alloy-looking highlights imbuing the regular AMG high performance ambience.
Our one criticism would be - notwithstanding a decent glovebox and a box under the centre armrest - the lack of cubicles to secure itesm such as mobile phones, sunglasses, wallets and the like.
As per the SLK, the boot with the roof up is surprisingly spacious…but when the roof opens it folds into the luggage area restricting space (although it cleverly uses a box type arrangement so you don’t crush stored items).
ON THE ROAD
- Engine: 270kW/520Nm 3.0-litre twin-turbocharged V6 petrol
- Transmission: Nine-speed automatic, rear wheel drive
- Suspension: MacPherson strut front, multi-link rear
- Brakes: Four-wheel discs
Underneath, the SLC 43 AMG boasts some significant improvements over the regular models - a lower ride height, rear forged track rods and stiffer mounts for the engine and rear subframe for starters. The suspension calibration is unique too with stiffer damping and extra negative camber.
The twin-turbocharged 3.0-litre V6 is familiar - it also powers the new C 43 AMG and SL 400. While the twin-turbo V8s continue to be hand-assembled at AMG’s facility in Affalterbach, Germany, this powerplant - albeit with AMG engineering and unique exhausts, ignition and injection - is actually made at Mercedes’ usual engine plant in Undertürkheim.
With 270kW/520Nm it is a ripper but without the deep baritone of the mighty V8.
Combine that with the slick nine-speed auto and the SLC 43 is truly rapid with impressive throttle response thanks to the twin-turbo technology but around town refinement is never compromised.
On the open road, a switch to Sport or Sport+ within the five-mode Dynamic Select system certainly sharpens things up as the steering feel gets more weight, the exhaust note gets more punchy and using the paddle-shifters for manual cog swapping is a delight.
And that firmer AMG suspension set-up pays dividends with little body roll and great feedback when hustling through corners. The road was a bit damp at one stage and we liked the rear-bias, especially in Sport+ with the SLC 43 delivering a nice squat and controllable oversteer under hard acceleration - clearly this is the sportiest version of the SLC range and it delivers just as you’d like.
Body control - often a bugbear in cars with retractable roofs - is very impressive. Recent rains in Melbourne have left some of our test roads in poor condition and while there was some jarring over extreme mid-corner washouts/potholes it was never enough to warrant criticism.
ANCAP Rating:The Mercedes-Benz SLC range hs yet to be tested by ANCAP
Safety Features: ABS anti-lock brakes, eight airbags, stability and traction control
WARRANTY AND SERVICING
Warranty: Three years/unlimited kilometers
Servicing: Every12 months/25,000kms. Mercedes-Benz Australia is working on a capped price servicing program but as we write details are still being finalised.
RIVALS TO CONSIDER
Audi’s TT S Quattro cabriolet stacks-up as the bargain in this field at $104,616. Gorgeous looks, a knockout interior and all-paw dynamics could overcome its lack of power with ‘only’ 210kW/380Nm on-tap.
Jaguar’s F-Type looks the business and oozes ‘Jaguar-ness’ at every corner. $142,780 buys you the entry-level Convertible V6S with the eight-speed automatic transmission. But with 250kW/450Nm, the Jag is a bit light-on under the bonnet compared to the SLC 43 AMG.
To get close to the 270kW/520Nm of the Mercedes-AMG SLC 43 you’ll need t stump-up $143,400 for the Porsche Boxster S (Boxster starts at $113,100 for the 220kW/380Nm model). Some Porsche ‘tragics’ aren’t keen on the four-cylinder engine... a Porsche is a Porsche we say.
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL
There are no shortage of opinions on the subject of whether the twin-turbocharged six is a step backwards compared to its V8-powered predecessor but the bottom line is you’re getting virtually the same performance with lower fuel consumption and emissions…and that can’t be bad.
OK we’ll concede the wonderful exhaust note of the SLK 55 will be missed but progress is progress and by any measure the latest Mercedes-Benz roadster continues the tradition of its glorious predecessors.
Two-seater retractable hardtops are by definition selfish cars so if you’re going down this road you deserve the luxury, sporty dynamics and street appeal which are the hallmarks of AMG.
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VISIT THE SHOWROOM: Merceds-AMG SLC 43 - Price, Features, and Specifications